Rare Rides: The 2020 Mitsuoka Rock Star, Believe in Your Dreams
Today’s obscure Rare Ride is from perhaps the most courageous car company in existence today: Mitsuoka. This two-seater combines the zesty performance of a modern Japanese roadster with Sixties American Corvette styling.
Hazard a guess what it is underneath?
A small, independent car firm created in 1996, Mitsuoka has always gone in its own styling direction. Most often the company put a new body on an existing Japanese car. They’ve made a formal Rolls-Royce-looking sedan based on a Corolla and turned a RAV4 turned into a vintage American SUV. Here in Mitsuoka’s own words is the backstory of the Rock Star:
“Even when people looked down on me, I believed in my dreams. But truth is I was scared. I pretended to be alright. Truth is I was eager for love, I wanted you to see. In a town that shines under the rain, Your eyes lead me. You told me ‘Just fly freely’. I can fly! Now I can fly. I can do it! Now I am free.”
Interpret that paragraph as you will as we move on to facts. The Rock Star was a very limited production model from Mitsuoka, which saw a C2 Corvette-themed body applied to a Mazda MX-5 Miata. Swoops, gills, and chrome appeared out of thin air. A long front end held integrated headlamps, as flip-up lamps were no longer compliant with safety regulation. At the back, the rear end was recognizable to anyone who’s seen a vintage Corvette with its signature circular brake lamps. Five-spoke chrome wheels set off the look and give the ride suitable Boomer energy.
There were no changes made to the Miata in terms of mechanicals: The Rock Star had the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder good for 132 horsepower as found in all Japanese market Miatas. Buyers could opt for manual or automatic transmissions. Changes inside were much more limited than the exterior and included a Mitsuoka-designed horn pad, and color-matched Mitsuoka stitching in the seats.
Mitsuoka revealed its new Rock Star in the fall of 2018, with a production cap of 50 examples. A shocking 30 paint colors were on offer – a number seemingly out of reach for larger manufacturers these days. Unsurprisingly, all examples were snapped up within four months, before the Rock Star ever entered production. The ask new was $41,700.
Fast forward a couple of years and today’s Rock Star is available with 225 kilometers on the clock, in Los Angeles blue. Rarity has already added a premium onto the roadster, and the current ask is $69,700.
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Interesting find. I appreciate that it is unique and can appreciate its appeal in that respect, but sort of lost me at 1.5L engine. $69K buys a lot of interesting cars that are probably a bit more fun.
While you're at the Mitsuoka dealer, check out the "Buddy," an SUV that looks like a shrunken Cadillac SRX with a 1980s Suburban front, apparently on a Toyota RAV4 chassis.